The day after Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez was fired, details of the impending sexual harassment lawsuit against him have surfaced.
In a notice of claim filed last week by a lawyer for Rodriguez’s former assistant and published Wednesday by the Arizona Daily Star, Rodriguez is accused of sexual harrassment, forcing his assistant to cover up his extramarital affair and making unwanted sexual advances.
In the filing, the assistant, Melissa Wilhelmsen, claims that she and two football staffers formed a group they dubbed the “Triangle of Secrecy” and “were forced to lie to Rodriguez’s wife to help cover up his indiscretions—primarily his extramarital affair.” (Rodriguez admitted to having an affair in a statement released Tuesday night after his dismissal.) On one occasion, Wilhelmsen says she was asked to obtain a sideline pass for Rodriguez’s girlfriend and then “had to stand between [Rodriguez’s wife and girlfriend] hoping to avoid a confrontation.”
Another situation where Wilhelmsen covered for Rodriguez was when she received a voicemail from someone at a Tuscon spa alleging Rodriguez had made sexual advances toward a masseuse there. Wilhelmsen did not inform anyone at the university about the voicemail.
Wilhelmsen also makes several allegations of inappropriate sexual remarks by Rodriguez, including the coach telling her that “his preferred style of underwear ‘visually enhanced’ his genitalia.” Rodriguez would also create situations where Wilhelmsen would see him shirtless, she alleges. In November 2016, “Rodriguez noticeably began timing his workouts so he could walk back to his office shirtless in front of Melissa.” On another occasion, Rodriguez asked Wilhelmsen to stay in his office with his dog while he showered but she “took the dog on a long walk to avoid interaction with Rodriguez and to avoid seeing him naked.” Wilhelmsen said she would also catch Rodriguez “constantly glaring at her thighs.”
Additionally, Wilhelmsen accuses Rodriguez of "grasping his penis beneath his basketball shorts" while they spoke after he invited her into his office. She claims Rodriguez, after calling her into his office and discussing marital problems with her, tried to kiss her and touch her breast.
The school said Tuesday that it had investigated sexual harassment claims against Rodriguez in October but could find no wrongdoing.
“I am not a perfect man, but the claims by my former assistant are simply not true and her demands for a financial settlement are outrageous,” Rodriguez said in a statement Tuesday night. “I am saddened that these accusations and investigation have caused my family additional stress.”